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Doddridge County hoping to avoid letdown to complete unbeaten regular season

WEST UNION, W.Va. — As high school football teams across the state begin preparing for Week 11 games Friday, seven do so seeking a win to punctuate an unbeaten regular season.

Three of those seven teams are in Class A, including Doddridge County. The Bulldogs will take on Tygarts Valley, which needs a win to have a chance at reaching the postseason.

With a win, the Bulldogs would secure an unbeaten regular season for the first time in 43 years, while also guaranteeing themselves at least two home playoff games should they advance beyond the first round.

“The last time it happened was 1975. It would mean a lot,” Doddridge County coach Bobby Burnside said of the chance to finish 10-0. “We can also wrap up the (Little Kanawha Conference) championship, and that means a lot no matter what happens from this point on.”

Last Friday, the No. 6 Bulldogs got the best of No. 4 Williamstown 14-7 at Cline Stansberry Stadium. The victory will allow Doddridge County to trade places with the Yellowjackets when the WVSSAC Playoff Ratings are released Tuesday.

It was the best win of the season for Burnside’s team, which may have only one other one against a playoff team (Ritchie County) in the regular season.

“They were never behind. They’ve scored a lot of points. If you’re undefeated, you’re pretty good,” Williamstown coach Terry Smith said. “I don’t care who you’re playing.”

The Bulldogs overcame a driving rainstorm, poor field conditions and an opponent that entered with an eight-game winning streak to prove they’re capable of beating a top-tier Class A program and give themselves a chance at finishing 10-0.

Junior tailback Hunter America put his name in the discussion for the Kennedy Award with another memorable performance, rushing for 310 yards and a pair of touchdowns to give him 2,193 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns on 207 carries.

America’s combination of speed and power has been a perfect fit behind an experienced offensive line helping pave the way for his success.

“We tried, but we just couldn’t slow the guy down,” Smith said. “America is obviously a really good back and he hit a couple long ones there, too. You give him a crease and the guy’s gone.”

Doddridge County has plenty of players with playoff experience having qualified for the postseason last year when it finished 8-3 and suffered a first-round loss at St. Marys.

But a win Friday would wrap up arguably the best season in school history and give the Bulldogs a good chance of advancing to at least the quarterfinals, if not beyond, in the playoffs.

“We can’t control what everyone else does. We have a chance to finish pretty high with this win,” Burnside said. “We have to prepare hard for Tygarts Valley. They’re much improved. We cannot have a letdown next week, because it’s a game that they’re going to play hard in and they’re playing for their playoff lives.”

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